Virginia Law Ending Public School Mask Mandates Takes Effect


Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin signed a bill into law allowing parents to opt their children out of mask mandates in public schools. The legislation took effect March 1st.

The law requires schools to allow the opt out option for parents by March 1st. The Governor will be allowed to use state of emergency powers to temporarily suspend the requirement in the future in the case of a public health emergency, according to the bill.

The legislation passed by a vote of 21-19 in the Democratic-controlled Virginia Senate with two Democrats siding with Republicans. In the Republican-controlled Virginia House of Delegates, the bill passed on a 52-48 party line vote. 

The new law is a major victory for recently-elected Youngkin, who attempted to end school mask mandates with an executive order in January, but was unsuccessful as the courts put implementation of the order on hold. The legislation also delivers on one of Youngkin’s campaign promises to give parents more choice in their children’s education.

Senior Dylan Black is not too concerned about the impacts of the law, saying, “I feel like it’s not gonna cause that much commotion.”

Locally, Fairfax County Public Schools sent a letter to the community updating its mask guidance to no longer require masking for students, staff, and visitors.

The FCPS school board released a separate statement about the new law saying they continue to have “constitutional concerns” about the bill, and that the law leaves local school divisions “no flexibility” in the case of future public health emergencies. 

Black believes it should not have been up to the Governor to make this decision, explaining, “The teachers should have been able to decide whether they want kids to wear a mask because some teachers have conditions, some teachers have kids they’re worried about.”